Winter has arrived, at least, officially. As June begins my feeling is that we're in for more of the same autumnal weather we enjoyed in May, with warm, sunny days mixed with short, sharp wintry ones.
The wintry changes are on the increase. This time last year Auckland had had no measurable frosts; this year, it has had at least three or four and frosty weather has been reported across the nation over the past week.
I see no major change in this current weather pattern as we head into June, with rainfall in the east and north potentially below average while western and southern areas may see more rain and colder weather. Generally speaking, of course. In a country like New Zealand making long-range predictions is always tricky but monthly predictions, I think, are valid.
The past week has certainly had some great weather, with our three main centres all having a taste.
All the interesting weather was really at the start of this week. On Monday a spectacular sunset spread from Auckland to Dunedin. It was caused by thick cloud over the country clearing right on the horizon so, as the sun went down, it briefly shone brightly upwards onto the clouds above us, creating an amazing fire-red sky.
That same evening a southerly change brought thunderstorms to Christchurch. Then, on Tuesday morning, an impressive hail storm hit Wellington. Some thought it was snow but, for snow to fall in Wellington's CBD, the air temperature needed to be lower. Reports of snow on the hills was highly likely, though.
There was far more dramatic weather around, too. Last Sunday and Monday, damaging gale-force winds hit parts of the country.
"Trees down, power's out and my guess is winds are hitting 130km/h," was a text I received from my colleague Richard Green in Canterbury as nor'westers picked up.
"Man, it must have been windy in Kaikoura yesterday/last night ... my friend had two shipping containers flip and crush their boat! Freakin' incredible," said South Islander Bridget Hobden.
This is what we can expect to see again in June, as the truly wintry weather moves in.
By the way, if you hate winter, here's a positive tip. The shortest day of the year is now just three weeks away ... that means one month from now the days will start to lengthen as we head towards summer.By Philip Duncan Email Philip